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Nienaber: 'Hats off to Frans'

SPOTLIGHT: After using 34 players in this year’s Rugby Championship, Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber believes that some questions have been answered over position depth.


One of those positions is flyhalf.

The Boks headed into their final Rugby Championship game against Argentina with Frans Steyn in the No.10 jersey.

Handre Pollard (knee) and Damian Willemse (concussion) were unavailable, while Elton Jantjies was out of the squad to deal with personal issues.

Despite the Boks winning Saturday’s match 38-21, Steyn seemed to struggle in the role.

He failed to find the touchline on a number of occasions when the Boks had penalties and he struggled to get the backline going on attack.

However, Nienaber believes Steyn’s No.10 role was a box ticked.


“We built some squad depth,” said the Bok coach.

“Some players got some experience but that wasn’t the main aim – which was to win the Rugby Championship and we fell short on that. But there were some positives to take out of it.

“We are in a better position now in terms of learning about certain positions than we were when we started.

“There was always this big issue around flyhalf and whether Damian [Willemse] could play there and hats off to Frans today [Saturday], in a very short space of time he had to slot in and he will just get better in terms of that.


“We’ve also had Kurt-Lee [Arendse] and Canan [Moodie] come through and now Cheslin [Kolbe] has to perform if he wants to get back in – but we know he is quality, and we look forward to welcoming him back.”

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After the All Blacks beat the Wallabies by 40-14 in Auckland earlier Saturday, the Boks had to win with a bonus point and a points’ difference of at least 39, and they failed on both accounts.

However, they still finished the competition with four wins from six games, the same as New Zealand.

“We had a plan to go full on to win the Rugby Championship,” he said.

“We were on task up to minute 35 and then they got a penalty and the score before halftime changed the dynamics.

“I think we can’t fault the effort from the players. We all sat down and bought into giving it as good a shot as we could – unfortunately we came up short, but you must never take a win in the Bok jersey for granted and we won’t. It’s special.”

The Boks are next in action against Ireland, the No.1 ranked team in the world, in Dublin in November when Nienaber said they would have an even better idea of the team’s progress.

“We’re not where we want to be yet. We need consistency, and we’ll probably get a pretty good idea on our end-of-year tour.

“We play No.1 and No.2 [France] teams in the world and we have an SA ‘A’ side, and it will be a challenging tour. But it will give us nice answers as to where we are.”

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